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A bad break for a 1959 D-28
"Hybrid" Headstock Repair
© Frank Ford, 3/9/02; Photos by FF

This one took a really nasty forward fall from a guitar stand.
In fact, it's just about the most dramatic looking break I've seen.
Believe it or not, after I took the strings off, only the friction from the mounting of the sixth string tuner held the pehgead together.
Once the tuner came off, the separation was complete. If it weren't for the complexity of the carved volute, I'd have chosen to do a backstrap overlay for extra flexibility and strength. Instead I decided to attack the broken sides of the pehgead separately, because the break was so different on each side.
Some nice hot hide glue would hold the peghead together, and would have made a nice repair in itself on the treble side. The bass side would need more help. Hide glue has terrific resistance to heat and is strong as the devil, so I have good confidence in it for long service.
So much of the break was basically a straight tear, so there were lots of interlocking fibers to align things as I drove the peghead back in place with a soft mallet.
Then a straight clamp-up to apply appropriate pressure, especially to the long break on the treble side. The treble side will hold nicely with just this glue job.
Here's the bass side, pretty much a butt joint, and not very strong. (The owner of the guitar asked me not to replace or refinish the front overlay, even though it would ultimately show a repaired cross grain crack, and have to be touched up and oversprayed with clear lacquer in the process.)
I screwed my bridge routing mill to the workbench.
And clamped the peghead, face down, in front of it. Then I was able to rout away a section of the peghead edge all the way in to the tuner holes.
Truing up the end cut with a knife, I made the cut as neat as I could.
Now, for a matching piece of new mahogany to strengthen that cross grain break

More hide glue. Even though nobody intends to cook a guitar in a hot parked car, it "happens" so often that I try to be cognizant of the risks of heat when it comes to parts of the guitar where the stress is concentrated, i.e., neck and bridge areas. Yellow carpenter wood glue fails utterly at the temperature of a hot car, where hide glue will stand much higher heat, and still not "flow."

The usual forest of clamps.
My choice for this kind of trimming is my trusty #60-1/2 Stanley low angle block plane. The good news is that these cool little planes are available from collectors for less than 40 bucks. In fact, it seems that just about any Stanley plane ever made is for sale at any given time on eBay.
Out comes the 18mm violin knife again for a bit of trimming.
Same for the end of the peghead.
Even though the break would probably hold well, I decided to get a bit of insurance by overlaying the back of the peghead to bridge over the broken areas, strengthen my new section, and clean up the look of the back side. A piece of 1/4" acrylic protects the peghead and lifts it enough when I hold it down to the drill press table.
The Wagner Safe-T-Planer is just the tool for the job. It gets in really close to the volute, too.
Held flat, my chisel gets in right to the corner, without nicking the volute.
I leveled and brought a piece of mahogany down to thickness with the Wagner.
Here's the new back overlay, ready to go.
More hide glue, more clamps.
More trimming, and a final sanding to correct contours and prepare for finish.
After finishing, then drilling the holes, the job is done, and ready to go.
All in all, the break doesn't show too badly because it's down there between the first and sixth tuning posts.
From the back side, everything looks pretty good, too.

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